All posts by sanderchan

New Publication: Catalytic Climate ACtion for A new decade

‘Climate Ambition and Sustainable Development for a New Decade: A Catalytic Framework’.

A new study by 26 leading experts evaluates the Global Climate Action Agenda (GCAA) and discusses options to improve it in order to strengthen sub‐ & non‐state engagement in challenging times.

The transition from the pre‐2020 to a post‐2020 agenda provides a political opportunity to recalibrate the design of a catalytic framework. A more collaborative, comprehensive, evaluative and catalytic Action Agenda will exemplify a new avenue of cooperation between governments and sub‐ and non‐state actors and should help to accelerate implementation, raise NDCs’ ambition and inform ambitious long-term strategies.

An improved GCAA should encourage engagement at lower levels of governance through collaboration with regional & national processes. Moreover, collaboration between orchestrators of climate and sustainable development action can improve reflexivity and deliberativeness in climate governance.

Read the open access study here.

Maximising Goal Coherence in Sustainable and Climate-Resilient Development? Polycentricity and Coordination in Governance.

New open access chapter with Gabriela Ileana Iacobuta and Ramona Hägele. in: Sachin Chaturvedi / Heiner Janus / Stephan Klingebiel / Xiaoyun Li / André de Mello e Souza / Elizabeth Sidiropoulos / Dorothea Wehrmann (Eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of development cooperation for achieving the 2030 Agenda, Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 25-50, online

This chapter argues that most efforts to mobilise non-state and subnational actor engagement so far has insufficiently contributed to goal coherence—the balanced implementation of internationally agreed goals. Despite the increased level of attention being given to the polycentric nature of sustainable development and climate governance—especially the role of non-state and subnational actors—the predominant focus of both policy-makers and researchers has been on filling functional gaps, for example closing the global mitigation gap, or financing gaps. As a result, voluntariness and self-organisation in polycentric governance could increase the level of incoherence. Insights on emerging polycentric structures should be combined with tools that map (goal) coherence. The combination of these fields of knowledge could inform supportive policies, for instance in development cooperation to ensure greater coherence in implementing sustainable development priorities.

New Publication: a framework to assess progress, implementation and impact of sub- and non-state climate action

Information on progress and impacts is essential for credible sub- & nonstate Climate Action. Today a team of scholars & practitioners present an assessment framework for credible climate action. The framework can be tailored for climate mitigation and adaptation.

The rising importance of cities, states and regions, firms, investors, and other subnational and non-state actors in global and national responses to climate change raises a critical question: to what extent does this climate action deliver results? This article introduces a conceptual framework that researchers and practitioners can use as a template to assess the progress, implementation, and impact of climate action by sub- and non-state actors. This framework is used to review existing studies that track progress, implementation, and achievement of such climate action between 2014 and mid-2019. While researchers have made important advances in assessing the scope and future potential of sub- and non-state climate action, we find knowledge gaps around ex-post achievement of results, indirect impacts, and climate action beyond the realm of greenhouse gas reductions.

Key policy insights

  • While we increasingly understand the scale, scope, and potential of climate action by sub- and non-state actors, we lack rigorous evidence regarding the results achieved and their broader impacts.
  • More information on progress and impact is essential for the credibility of sub- and non-state climate action. Policymakers need to understand which approaches are working and which are not, promoting the diffusion of best practice and creating conditions for stronger action in the future.
  • The proposed conceptual framework can be tailored and applied to a wide range of initiatives that target mitigation, adaptation, and other spheres of climate action. By providing a template to identify key elements of progress tracking and evaluation, the framework can help align both research and practitioner communities around the data and metrics required to understand the overall impact of climate action.

To read, follow this link to the Climate Policy article.

Thomas N. Hale, Sander Chan, Angel Hsu, Andrew Clapper, Cynthia Elliott, Pedro Faria, Takeshi Kuramochi, Shannon McDaniel, Milimer Morgado, Mark Roelfsema, Mayra Santaella, Neelam Singh, Ian Tout, Chris Weber, Amy Weinfurter & Oscar Widerberg (2020) Sub- and non-state climate action: a framework to assess progress, implementation and impact, Climate Policy, DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2020.1828796

Increasing policy coherence between NDCs and SDGs: a national perspective

Fewer than 10 years remain to achieve Agenda 2030, yet no country is on track to meet all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Countries are also far behind in achieving the low-carbon and climate-resilient society envisioned in the Paris Agreement; their climate pledges, or nationally determined contributions (NDCs), are far less ambitious than required to keep global warming to the Paris target of “well below” 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

The goals of the NDCs intersect both positively and negatively with the SDGs; progress on climate goals can therefore either help or hinder progress on the SDGs. The success of both can be helped by policy coherence, wherein countries promote synergies and address conflicts in the implementation of both their NDC and SDG agendas.

In a new SEI Policy Brief we present initial findings on coherence in the joint implementation of these two agendas in 6 countries: Germany, Kenya, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sweden and the Philippines. We chose these countries to provide a diverse representation with respect to levels of income and domestic dependence on fossil fuels.

Shawoo, Zoha / Adis Dzebo / Ramona Hägele / Gabriela Iacobuta / Sander Chan / Cassilde Muhoza / Philip Osano / Marie Francisco / Åsa Persson / Björn-Ola Linner / Marjanneke J. Vijge (2020) Increasing policy coherence between NDCs and SDGs: a national perspective, SEI Policy Brief, Stockholm Environment Institute


A new open access article in Climate Policy quantifies the net aggregate impact in 2030 of commitments by individual non-state and subnational actors (e.g. regions, cities and businesses, collectively referred to as ‘NSAs’) to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The analysis was conducted for NSAs operating within ten major emitting economies that together accounted for roughly two-thirds of global GHG emissions in 2016. Our assessment includes 79 regions (e.g. subnational states and provinces), approximately 6,000 cities, and nearly 1,600 companies with a net emissions coverage of 8.1 GtCO2e/year, or a quarter of the ten economies’ total GHG emissions in 2016. The analysis reflects a proposed methodology to aggregate commitments from different subnational (i.e. regional and city government) and non-state (i.e. business) actors, accounting for overlaps.

If individual commitments by NSAs in the ten high-emitting economies studied are fully implemented and do not change the pace of action elsewhere, projected GHG emissions in 2030 for the ten economies would be 1.2–2.0 GtCO2e/year or 3.8%–5.5% lower compared to scenario projections for current national policies (31.6–36.8 GtCO2e/year). On a country level, we find that the full implementation of these individual commitments alone could result in the European Union and Japan overachieving their nationally determined contributions (NDCs), while India could further overachieve its unconditional NDC target. In the United States, where the national government has rolled back climate policies, NSAs could become a potential driving force for climate action.

Kuramochi, Takeshi / Mark Roelfsema / Angel Hsu / Swithin Lui / Amy Weinfurter / Sander Chan / Thomas Hale / Andrew Clapper / Andres Chang / Niklas Höhne (2020) Beyond national climate action: the impact of region, city, and business commitments on global greenhouse gas emissions, Climate Policy, DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2020.1740150

ESG Working group: Climate action & Economic downturn

Climate action by both state and non-state actors becomes increasingly urgent as the world is far from limiting global warming to 1.5/2°C. More and more effective climate action is necessary. However, the world is also facing a severe economic downturn following the COVID-19 outbreak, which will likely affect projects, policy, capacities, support, and political will for climate mitigation and adaptation action. Does the ongoing crisis present a window of opportunity for transformative systemic change?

A newly proposed ESG Working Group seeks to bring together scholars with different disciplinary backgrounds to discuss:

  • short- and long-term effects of an economic downturn;
  • possible effects on capacities, support, and political will; and
  • opportunities to mitigate negative effects and to strengthen climate action.

The Working Group will explore opportunities for research collaboration and initial publications, for instance an ESG Issue Brief.

If you are interested to join this Working Group, please contact me by sending me an email.

Climate Action and the SDGs, Managing Synergies and Tradeoffs – Lecture at Yale-nus college

In February, I had the great pleasure to visit Data-Driven Lab, and to share some of my work with students from Yale-NUS College (Singapore), focusing on the interlinkages between climate action and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The following is a transcript of my presentation.

Climate action is not only about reducing emissions, but also sustainable development. There has recently been a reversal in progress towards some of the SDGs, such as world hunger, which is worsening and very likely caused by climate change. More sustainable development achievements are expected to be reversed as a result of climate change. We must therefore move away from thinking of climate action as purely a matter of environmental action.

Read further by clicking here.